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Vorshlag 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 - auto-x/track build (STX?)
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21 Apr 2011 07:20 PM
Part 3....

March 25-27 - Mineral Wells SCCA ProSolo (Mustang)

Amy and I got to MW around 10:30 Friday morning after picking up McCall, who was coming out to the site to help out the local SCCA region set-up for this National ProSolo event. We were soon joined by Costas and the 4 of us pitched in to work the gate, set-up the region trailer stuff, the Vorshlag vendor table, and try to lend a hand wherever needed. Amy and I had entered in the EVO school, which was just some classroom coaching on the event format (its been years since we ran a ProSolo), and then several test starts on the .500 drag race tree.

A ProSolo is a unique event combining a pair of mirror imaged autocross courses and a drag race start, with your best times from each side added together for a total time in class, and we had 6 runs on each side over 2 days to get it right. Reaction times count and you can red light or cut a slow reaction time, which can hurt your run times or DSQ the run (red light). Drag race starts with a nice straight at the beginning of each run. Lots of power... runs 12s stock. Should be a good fit for the Mustang, right?


Well, when the straights are a good 1000+ feet long, sure, it helps... But on this course set-up this time the starting straights barely took up 1st gear in the Mustang before the first turn, and we lost out badly to the AWD cars (2.2 sec 60 foot times in the Mustang vs 1.8 sec in the AWD VW in our class) and barely matched the RX8s and BMWs in class. So any hope for advantage was just not there.

We quickly noted a new problem with the brakes on Saturday - ABS Ice Mode. When the brakes were pressed quickly the ABS system freaked out and you lost 50% or more of the braking power, and we all blew many turns on course because of this. We don't know what it was, but the only change since the previous weekend when the brakes worked SO well was a swap to DTC-60 race pads out back and the change back to AD08s, but we had run these tires before. The surface was different as well, but I have run at Mineral Wells dozens of times over the past decade, never seeing anything like this. WTF??

We ended up switching from "drive into the corner on the brakes to load up the front tires, just so it will turn" method of driving this plowing pig, to more of a "momentum/Miata" driving style, trying to reduce the time under braking and maximize lateral grip and slalom speed. Driving into a corner on the brakes is a work-around for a pushy car, and Costas and I have used this on many Pony cars in the past, but it just wasn't possible when the brakes were not there. The momentum method sort of worked, and kept the car out of ABS and Ice Mode, but sure was frustrating as all hell. We were dead slow in the big sweeping corners and we knew it.

After our 4 dismal runs per side Saturday were over, I put the car on jack stands and yanked off the rear wheels and brakes. The pads looked... weird. Discoloration and weird build-up of material in the grove in the pad, especially strange for a brand new set of pads. The rear pad swap was the one main variable that changed, so I wanted to change back to a more normal street pad out back, hoping it would get the ABS computer out of the Ice Mode tendencies under heavy braking. So I took the pads to a local O'Reily's parts store in town hoping to match up with a set of pads they had in stock. The 2011 was too new for their catalog but they had 2009 Mustang GT listings, and we found a match for pad shape. ThermoQuiet house brand Ceramic/metallic pads, which AJ has used on a dozen cars with no ill-effects, so I gave them a try. I wanted less braking power out back, not more.

I got back to the event site and realized I needed a caliper piston retractor tool and a caliper compression clamp, so back to town I went. By the time I had all of the right tools and the rear pads swapped it was getting dark, so I drove out to a nearby highway and tried to bed the pads in, after many stops. The stopping power was still very diminished, and easily getting into the "ABS freak out mode". WTF? I came back to the site and pulled the pads back off for a look - they weren't bedding in well. Then I took the G-Tech data logger and went out and did some 60-0 mph braking tests, with what looked like poor results (157 feet??). Then I took Paul M's STU-classed and Brembo equipped 2011 GT (stock pads/rotors on 275mm Dunlops), and it was stopping just as poorly. I did some 0-60 mph test in both cars as well, pulling a 4.5 sec time and .65g in 1st gear in my car and 5.3 second run and .58 g in his car. So they were closely matched, even with his car's 3.73 vs my car's 3.31 gearing. By then it was pitch black out, I ate some of the food at the party we sponsored and drank some beer, then we hit the hotel for some shut-eye. Tried to stay awake and watch F1, but my eyes wouldn't have it.

Since I was Impound Chief for the event, on Saturday I managed to get the Mustang on the scales... haven't weighed it in a while. Showed 3479 lbs with 1/8th tank of fuel in the car. Much better than before but still a solid 55% on the front tires.

Sunday's driving was more of the same frustration, even with the new rear pads - no heavy braking possible or it went into Ice Mode. On this day the ambient temps went from sunny and high-70s/low-80s from Friday and Saturday to overcast, mid 40s, with a BRUTAL wind all day. Most racers brought clothes and shorts for Spring weather but were under-dressed for this late winter cold front. A few racers still picked up some time in the last 2 runs per side, but Costas and I only got a tick faster each. Amy was slow in her class as well. At least she and Costas BOTH cut one perfect .500 reaction time each (I was cutting consistent crap lights). Costas and I were 2.6 and 2.9 seconds off the class winners for both sides, ending up in 5-6th out of 11 according to the results on site, but the posted results show a driver ahead of us that DQ'd himself for driving the course during set-up. No matter - the results still stunk, and we were slow.

We couldn't ever get a complete, good run in without hitting Ice Mode or fighting lots of mid-corner understeer. Tire pressures and shock changes were not enough to counter this massive push, and the wheelspin on corner exit was again ridiculous. Did we simply have too much power and weight for a 265mm street tire? Is all hope lost? Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi!

I think not. We keep seeing bad tendencies in the data and the close-up pictures of the tires. I think we've been in the completely wrong ballpark on tire pressures, the rear spring rates need to drop, and the brakes need more attention. We've probably run into some pad compound cross-contamination issues with the rotors, so we've ordered a whole new set of rotors and another set of autocross pads (Hawk HP+). We'll cut the existing rotors and re-bed them with the DTC-60 track pads and swap between the matched sets of pads and rotors from autocross to track events - these pads have VERY different cold bite characteristics, as well as different coef of friction, dusting & noise parameters.

We're also awaiting our initial stocking order from Energy Suspension bushings, with some much needed polyurethane bushings for the Mustang being made to order. The OEM front LCA bushings are the softest I've ever felt on an OEM suspension, and as big around as your fist. Soft - like a Nerf football soft. That bushing is deflecting under load and losing lots of camber in corner, and the rear control arms and panhard bar are just as soft, causing who-knows-what out back. We've also noted a side-offset of the entire axle, also due to the panhard bar's fixed length and lowering of the back. We need to start developing a Watts Link for the car. We also still have the stock, non-adjustable swaybars, so we're getting a set of Eibach adjustable/tubular front swaybar set coming ASAP (the 2011 has been "in development" for far too long and I'm tired of waiting). AST is also working with us on this new rear shock and the front strut is getting a revalve as well - we'll get this thing to carve cones, by damn!

We've tested several more wheels in the past week, including an 18x10.5" Enkei with a 285/30/18 Hoosier mounted, which is more appropriate for NASA TT use. But the 285/30 is too short, so we're looking at the 275/35/18 and a Pirelli 305 race tire as well. Another set of 18x9" wheels is on order to help test the many 265mm tires needed for STX autocross use back-to-back; so many choices available, and we need to test most of them. And power never hurts on track, so the headers + custom exhaust bends are going to be ordered soon, and the Steeda cold air + SCT Tuner is already en route.

The E30 isn't forgotten, either. We've ordered a 2nd aluminum seat and two I/O port seat back braces for this thing, as well as another 6-point harness. We need to adjust the rear control arm mounts for adjustable toe and camber and get that sorted. The wiring issues are also being addressed now. And of course we need to find a transmission that can last more than 2 events (we've broken 2 transmissions in 3 events). We have some home-brew aero tricks up our sleeves as well, mostly for on-track improvement. And the ride heights and fender openings will again be lowered/trimmed further, until they are right. We also need to design and build a low-buck adjustable rear swaybar - from scrap metal and used parts (ugh).

Somewhere in this crazy month of March our lead tech AJ managed to replace the tie rods on the E36 M3, align it, pull the transmission, install the shifter/spring kits, a new clutch/pressure plate/TOB, reinstall the trans, fix the shifter, and tidy up a number of things in the process. The car drives like a DREAM now, and is ready for sale finally. More on that in its own thread soon.

Meanwhile I'm going to take a weekend off in April - this weekend - well, one day at least. Already burned out and the season has just begun. There's a Lemons race at ECR I'm driving in (hopefully not crashing in! I've been at the gym for 2 months trying to get ready) and a NASA track event plus 2 or 3 autocrosses, and a test day at the track scheduled. We're trying to set-up a mid-week autocross test day with the AST-USA folks as well. Lots to do.

More soon,
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21 Apr 2011 07:22 PM
Project update for March 30, 2011: The Quest For Wheels!

As you may have noticed in several of my thread updates, we've been fairly well stymied on our search for lightweight wheels on this car. Here's the parameters we've had:

1. They have to clear the stock front 14" Brembo brakes. This means some 18" wheels will fit, but definitely not all.

2. 17" wheels are out, as are 19" wheels. Seventeens won't clear the brakes, nineteen are too heavy and race tire selection/weight/cost sucks.

3. We need two distinctly different sets:
A) A set of 18x9" wheels for STX autocross use[/INDENT]
o Something with an ET45 fits easily[/INDENT]
o Even an ET38 will fit[/INDENT]
o Lightness is important! We've already lost ELEVEN POUNDS PER CORNER but could lose even more[/INDENT]
B) A set of 18x10 (or 18x10.5") for track use (when we move up to NASA TTA)[/INDENT]
o We've found that there's really not one backspacing that fits properly front and rear (the GRAND AM teams use 18x10's with slightly different offsets front and rear)[/INDENT]
o The 18x10.5" ET38 fits on the front with camber, but not the rear[/INDENT]
o The 18x10 ET38 Enkei RPF-1 fit the rear "fairly well" but needed 7mm of spacer to clear the brakes[/INDENT]

4. As much as I'd love to run 18x9.5" wheels - they are MANY more choices in this size - these aren't legal for STX and are too narrow for my needs on track.

5. Cost matters, too... Something under $400 a wheel would be ideal. Weight matters more than cost

6. Looks matter a very small mount. I don't want hot pink wheels or blingy chrome, but I'm pretty open on the rest. Form follows function.

Right now we've got these 18x9" Enkei FP-01 wheels (see above) in ET45 and they are 19.3 lbs each . They clear the front brakes and front fenders and front struts by a mile - they have fairly curved spokes - and the are tucked inside the fenders a good bit (that's how we were able to fit the 10.5" wheels on the front) With similarly shaped spokes they could go outboard another 10mm and still fit inside the rear fenders.

We need another set of 18x9" wheels to better test the various 265mm "ST" legal tires. I was going to order another set of these and had a set on order, but I'm holding off for now. I want to try something new, and hopefully lighter. Please post more suggestions for 18x9 wheels in 114.3 bolt parttern that are under 19 lbs and under $400 each! Thanks.

As for the wider track wheels... well we've got one each of these:

I love the weight on the 18x10" RPF-1, but it only fits the rear (front needs big spacer to clear the brakes). Love the width of the FP-01 in 10.5" but it only fits the front (sticks out on the rear, and its a bit on the hefty side). Hell, I might just use the 10.5" on front and the RPF-1 10" on the back, and get one more of each. Not pretty, mis-matched, and the rears are less than ideal (they really need an 8" backspacing ) but it works... well, poorly. This option kind of sucks, but you can see the fit of this mis-matched set with 285/30/18s below.

18x10.5" ET38 on front... 18x10" ET38 on back

We are eventually going to try to make an 18x10" wheel that fits this car correctly, and clears these brakes, and is even lighter - soon. But I need wheels to race on later this month (NASA @ TWS) and I'm tired of waiting.

The alternative is CCW Classics. $2380 for a set of race 18x10" versions, take at least 4 weeks to make, not exceptionally light (figure they'd be 22-23 lbs) but they look good and are at least serviceable. Again, anyone who thinks a 3-piece 18" wheel are light has never accurately weighed one. Lots of bad data out there. LOTS. Accurate scales don't lie. There are many 1-piece cast wheels that are significantly lighter than the same sized 3-piece. The modularity and customization of a 3-piece wheel is the benefit, not the weight. Yea, your brother had a set of 3-piece wheels that were super light. SHOW THEM ON A DIGITAL SCALE. I only believe wheel weights I can take myself, period.

Hanchey's 17x9.5" CCWs from the E36 (above left) were a staggering 20.4 lbs each and the 18x11" CCWs on the E30 (above right) are much heavier.

Sure, with custom built 3-piece wheels I could then get two different offsets (front and rear), but these Classic centers aren't known for clearing big calipers without adding spacers. So they still might need maybe... 7.5" to 8" backspacing + a big spacer on the front to clear the calipers. That backspacing would fit under the rear fenders better and then with a ~1/2" spacer up front to clear the calipers. Might be the easiest solution for now, but neither affordable, quick to build, nor lightweight. Pretty bad option, really. Already have long wheel studs up front for this very purpose, though.

Alternatives? A 1-piece 18x10" wheel with an ET50 or so and under 19 lbs would be ideal!
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21 Apr 2011 07:30 PM
Project Update for April 1, 2011 : No April Fools silliness in here, just some thread questions, my answers & the logic behind them.

First off, I don't mean to be argumentative or sound like a know-it-all, because I surely do not. Let me try to explain why I keep saying a wheel that "fits" or "doesn't fit". I strongly believe using as much tire width as you can possibly fit, and sometimes even more (flares), when the class allows it. And to use the proper wheel width for a given tire, if not more. So I go to great lengths to maximize wheel and tire width on my cars.

I have been test fitting, measuring and weighing race wheels for 20+ years, and have amassed a lot of data, so I just cannot believe almost anything I read on the interwebs about wheel and tire data. As we all here know, most of the "facts" posted on most forums are just regurgitated crap someone else read somewhere. You see it enough times and it becomes fact, even when its bunk. Even data published on websites (especially wheel weights) or from wheel retailers is often incorrect. Its shocking to me how few of the population knows how to weigh a freagin wheel accurately. I've sent more than a couple of sets of wheels back for a refund when their published/promised weights were off by 3 or more pounds (I warned them up front and they agreed to that stipulation each time). I'm not prejudicial about my skepticism - I simply don't believe anybody. :) I have to see it with my own eyes. I might as well be from Missouri... since you have to show me .

So if someone says "this wheel fits" or "this wheel weighs about X", I need to see a picture. Or a dozen. And then measure the wheel for myself to verify width, backspace and weight. Huge skeptic. Then I'll still want to see the car raced (load the suspension up and see if the tire touches) and look at the wheelwells for tire residue or watch for smoke. I've posted about certain tires not fitting a given car and than seen the inevitable "I race on that giant tire and it fits!" posts. Then later see them at an autocross or the track and watch as plumes of tire smoke pour out of their car. Or watch as they crawl around at half speed, so they never load up the suspension or tires. So my definition of "what fits" is probably different from someone else's.

And different racing conditions have different tire clearance requirements. A typical autocross car sees only spikes of G-loading (slaloms and small turns) but on a road course everything happens SOOO SLOOOOWLY... with loooong turns... so you tend to load the suspension up laterally for much longer periods of time, and see higher g loading. If you touch the curbs at all that can load the suspension even further. If a tire rubs a bit on an autocross car, what's the worst that can happen? You're never on course for more than 60 seconds, and you can check for the the tire rubbing and residue after each run when in doubt. On track you are out there for 20+ minutes, and a lot can happen in that time if you have a tire touching a fender...

When we stuffed 18x10" wheels and 265/35/18s on my E46 330 (above) it worked fine on the street and even autocross, but when I ran it at the track in TTD the rears would rub the outboard upper section of the fenders BADLY. It took hours of massaging the rear fenders - and proper tire testing with the shock on the bumpstops without a spring installed - to clearance it fully for track use.

So, let's see some pics...

[QUOTE=blackbolt9;896240]How much better do you want them to fit? JBS Motorsports Boss 302R with the BBS wheel, no spacers on the rear. Photo stolen from Rehagen website, I assume taken by Wes Duenkel


Hmm... OK, from that angle that wheel looks like it fits... its a little close in the rear, but it would probably work. So are you telling me the GA cars use the cast BBS wheel? I've heard (there I go using second hand info!) that there's another 18x10" mesh wheel that BBS makes (at double the cost) for the GA teams that has a different offset for the rear. Of course if you're going to GRAND AM races and working at Rehagen then you'd know this to be true or false better than me, so I will defer to you. What's the skinny - is there indeed a street version of this 18x10" BBS wheel, and a different GA wheel?

And as for the 7.0" backspacing claim I made, I trusted the interwebs and look - its burned me again. The early data I found on Rehagen's website about the cast 18x10" BBS showed that it had a 7" backspacing and weighed 20-21 lbs. I literally cut and pasted that data from the website right into the caption on this picture , last year. And of course there's the $637 cost.

Since then I've tested an 18x10 with 7" backspace on the rear and it stuck out on my car a bit more than I liked. But if its now showing to be a 7.2" B.S. wheel, that would indeed fit better out back (barely), and that is also the most backspacing you can get away with on the front before losing clearance to the strut. So if its now showing as a 7.2" backspacing then that's probably pretty darn good. But did someone say you still have to use a spacer up front to clear the caliper?? That seems like an odd requirement for a $637 wheel...

But If I was going to spend over $600 on a 18x10" wheel it damn sure wouldn't be a heavy-ish cast wheel. CCW monoblocks are only $700 each (ha! only), and can be custom made to your specs. Very strong, might even be light (depending on who you believe - I believe calibrated, digital scales, but have yet to see these wheels pictured atop one). And if I was going to to make a custom set of wheels for this car for track use, I'd make them 10.5" front and rear, and maybe even 11" on the back. If I wasn't running NASA TTA with its imbalanced points penalties for tire width, I'd put as much tire under this fat-assed Mustang as we could fit. Probably 295 fronts and 315 rears. But tire width is heavily penalized in NASA Time Trial... anything more than a 285mm and I'm looking at a class bump up to TTS, so that's not going to work. Since I can only afford the class points for a 285 (grumble) then a 10" wheel is sufficient, therefore its easier to make a single wheel fit front and rear. And therefore not really beneficial to make a custom set of wheels. And hence why I'm spinning around in circles trying to find an 18x10" or 10.5" 1-piece wheel that's off-the-shelf and under $400 each.

And I think my comments were misconstrued (and poorly written) about lightweight wheels - the autocross set I need (18x9) can afford to be very light, as running over cones in a parking lot doesn't take the same strength of wheel as track abuse. But even on track this car isn't raced W2W (only TT + HPDE), so it doesn't see the "fighting for the lead" type of abuse the Continental GA cars would normally, so it can probably afford to be a bit lighter than what the GRAND AM teams use. :)

[QUOTE=Thinkkker;896272]Its the way to go really.....

18X10.5 in the front: *sorry, best I could find*

18X10.5 in the rear: *there is over 1" or so clearance on the inside*

The fronts fits about perfect, and without fender mods, I don't think you will get more. These are 30mm Offset....[/QUOTE]
Kent - sorry, but those 18x10.5" ET30 Enkei NT01+M's don't fit on either end with anything close to perfection, at least to my standards. The poor lighting and odd angle on those pictures you posted (especially from the back) don't really show the situation clearly. Costas and I looked at your car and those very wheels & tires in person at the National Tour event 2 weeks ago and both the front and rear tires stick out past the fenders. A lot out back. Sure, "it works" for autocrossing and is common for the category, I'll grant you, but its not what I'm looking for. Madderash's F-Body wheels stick out as well.

Left: 18x10.5" ET38 (7.2" backspacing) fits up front - BARELY. Right: Same wheel on back sticks out a ton

As you can see above, we've fit an 18x10.5" ET38 (another 8mm inboard than Kent's) on our car with little 285s and they just barely cleared in front but stuck way out in the rear. These have a measured 7.2" of backspacing and have about 3mm of room inboard to the AST strut. Not any room to be gained up front, so nothing wider would "fit" in my book, without flared fenders.

The rear on this 18x10.5" ET38 wasn't even close to fitting - it stuck out more than 1/2" - and this is why I'm still somewhat curious how an 18x10 with the same 7.2" backspacing would fit really well. The rears need to go inboard another inch, if not 1.5". As you can see in the picture above, right, there's a good "three fingers" of clearance inboard to the unibody with these 10.5" (7.2" B.S.) wheels on back. Using something like an ET60 would be a good place to start (8.1" of backspacing). But then you'd need a good sized spacer up front (nearly an inch thick) to have a set of wheels that rotate easily (and yes, ideally I'd want that - as would most track guys). That's a lot of spacer, so realistically a rotatable set of 18x10.5" wheels isn't possible... but an 18x10" set is.

For a properly fitting 18x10" set, in my eyes, I'd want to have the front end up at 7.2" backspacing, but I'd be happier with 7.5" B.S. on the rear, or a 10.5" with 8.0". So I might (if I have to go custom) build an 18x10" to 7.5" B.S. and use a ~1/4" spacer up front. That's if I have to resort to a custom set (CCW). Don't know yet... still looking at some Porsche rear wheels...

Good news on the 18x9" wheel search , thanks to BRODA's suggestion about the WedSport. Found one of our dealers that had a set in stock and they made us a significantly better deal than $620 each, so a set is incoming. This will be for autocross use (only) for the 265/35/18 Toyo R1Rs. They claim to be 16.9 lbs but I'll snap a shot on the scale and post it up when they arrive, next week. For reference here's a Speedline C5 Z06 17 x9.5" wheel that Costas brought by and we weighed today. Not bad for an OEM wheel, but Speedline is very weight conscious.

Also as you can see above, we have the Mustang torn apart awaiting more parts. New rotors and Hawk HP+ pads are going on and the front struts are being revalved at AST-USA today. Trying some new spring rates and I'll report back how they work in a little over a week (two autocrosses that weekend). Also, we weighed the stock front and rear rotors, which can be seen below.

Wow. The front rotor weighs more than the wheel. That's... just, wow. And no, we're not paying $800 for the 2-piece Girodisc rotors that are on the market, but we will be doing something about that. I bet there's 10 pounds in the front rotors alone that could be lose. The hat section of the stock front rotor is THICK steel.

More next time...
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21 Apr 2011 07:43 PM
I have a set of 18 x 9 +55 SSR Type C Comp wheels I may want to part with (16.9# each). I think you can use a 5 x 114.3 wheel pattern?

ps: I can completely appreciate and understand your present frustration having been there myself in the RX8. Despite the slow start, we are all looking over are shoulder because we certainly expect the Mustang to be coming up on us at some point. Keep up the great work! Love this thread too.
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22 Apr 2011 11:47 AM
Project Update for April 11, 2011: We had a lot going on the past 2 weeks (prep on 4 of our cars and very busy Vorshlag business) but we still managed to make several changes to the Mustang and then autocross it this past Sunday. Let's take a look at the latest round of mods in this post and talk about the autocross in a post to follow.

First up was the Steeda Cold Air kit that finally arrived, along with the SCT Tuner. This combo-package from Steeda was chock Full Of WIN.

The stock 2011 GT's air inlet box is pretty typical - lots of restrictive accordion style tubing, a closed-element air box, a flat paper element air filter, and weird sound muffling chambers in the inlet tube. There was also the separate "sound tube" silliness that piped sound from the inlet track into the passenger compartment. The stock car is so quiet (81 dB wide open, as tested at an SCCA event!) that this helps you hear the choked up engine sound. The Steeda cold air kit consisted of an all new aluminum MAF housing, a new air inlet tube/elbow all the way to the throttle body, a heat shield that tied into the lower air inlet scoop, a larger lower air scoop piece, and the conical/open element high flow air filter. The kit came with instructions and everything we needed to install it.

I was impressed with the craftsmanship. I've made most of the "cold air" kits on my own personal race cars in the past 20 years, but this car looked a little more complicated with the integral MAF housing in the OEM plastic tube. And with a new higher flowing MAF comes the need for a tune - this has been the standard for Mustangs since the earliest MAF equipped Mustangs 5.0L Mustangs I raced in back in college (MY1986-up). This Steeda kit was not an inexpensive kit, and I am leery of high priced parts that are heavy on the bling and lacking in performance, but this was money well spent. The inlet bell for the MAF housing was a beautifully machined and welded part, and much nicer than I had expected to see (or than I would have made!), with a smoothly tapered inlet bell that has to help air flow. The aluminum heat shield was also very well made and fit perfectly to the new MAF housing, lower inlet scoop, and to the chassis.

AJ had the stock parts out and the new bits back together fairly quickly, but Matt and I snapped some pics of the parts and the install while it was going together. He cleaned up the stock inner fender section under the OEM airbox while it was out (I like my engine bays uber-clean), and it all fit together perfectly. Since its STX-class legal and holds in a little engine heat we removed the plastic OEM "5.0" engine cover piece as well - then cleaned up the hoses and looms underneath. Looks good under there and has less clutter. We did not re-install the OEM inlet air "sound tube"; I consider that part of the OEM cold air system, so its STX-class legal to modify/remove it, in my eyes. That stupid tube weighed less than 1 pound and is more of a marketing gimmick than performance anything. Plugged the hole in the Steeda inlet tube with a a big rubber plug and hose clamp. Again - less clutter under the hood.

Will it be too quiet now without the sound tube artificially pumping engine sound into the cabin? Not hardly! This car SOUNDS GOOD now, and external sound testing shows about a 9dB increase in sound at the SCCA Pro Solo (between my Mustang with OEM airbox and Paul M's identical Mustang with this Steeda cold air) 2 weeks back. See the in-car autocross video below for sounds. We'll plug the 30mm hole in the firewall with some grommet plugs, that Paul found and ordered online, when they arrive.

The SCT Tuner was loaded with a custom Tune Steeda developed for Paul's car as well, which has a more linear throttle response for the drive-by-wire throttle body. Paul was the guinea pig on this mod - he bought this same package and had Steeda tweak the tune a couple of times and we just had them load the same tune for our SCT programmer, as I had driven his car with the same cold air and SCT tune and REALLY liked the improvement. Uploading the tune via the OBD-II port was easy, if not a bit time consuming the first time around (its not nearly as quick as say... a COBB AccessPORT upload, but it has a few more customer-tweakable settings, too). The adjustable speedometer feature (for gearing and/or tire height changes) is a nice feature on this programmer, as is the adjustable rev limit. The OEM limiter is around 6800 rpm and I raised it to 7400 for autocross use (quick bursts up to that limit to avoid a 2-3 shift on some courses), which is plenty safe (the new Boss302 has a 7500 limit). Lots of '11 "Coyote 5.0" Mustang racers are revving stock motors higher than that, but I won't push it further. This ain't no M54.

We then put on a heavier part up front - an Eibach 2005-2010 Mustang GT adjustable, hollow swaybar. They supposedly have had a 2011 GT swaybar kit (with 1mm larger front and an adjustable rear bar) coming out since SEMA 2010, but all we have heard after 6 months of trying to buy one is delays and excuses, and I was tired of waiting, so we ordered the adjustable front '05-'10 bar (but not the matching rear, as it wasn't adjustable; we might make our own rear bar at some point to work with some other mods we have planned). Now this front bar is still 35mm OD, which is the exactly the same as the stock 2011 GT front bar, but as you can see the Eibach tubular unit is 3.4 pounds heavier than the stock non-adjustable front unit, so it has to have thicker wall tubing , which means it should be stiffer at the stiffest settings. And it feels as stiff or stiffer than stock in the "middle" setting we started at - but we need to test this properly and post the numbers up. We'll test the settings on the bar on course at a test-n-tune event later this month. I made sure our tech got the bar installed with no bind in the chassis mounts, which I checked to have "pinky finger effort" to rotate with the end links off. Perfect.... well, almost.

We also switched the 2.5" ID x 200 #/in Hyperco rear springs to a longer 2.25" ID x 175#/in rate Hyperco, and I machined the AST rear ride height adjusters (made for 60mm and adaptable up to 2.5") down to fit the 2.25" ID springs. Problem was there's not a lot of lengths or rates available in 60mm ID or 2.5" ID, but TONS of choices in 2.25". We do this on all sorts of cars when the choices move us to the smaller ID spring. The 2.25" spring is lighter, but costs more than 2.5" or 60mm, and we usually stock and sell 60mm Hyperco springs if possible (most AST struts are made to fit 60mm springs). We have played with no less than 5 different rear springs in the past few months and we finally got a winner in a softer rate with the 2.25" ID that works with the new rear shocks, rate and lower ride height. A lot of trial fitting went into this. Long story short - we now have 3 different rear spring length/rate packages that should please a wide range of the autocrossers and track guys, and we're trying more front rates as well.

The new lightweight WedsSport TC105N 18x9" ET50 wheels arrived from Vivid Racing this past week. I immediately weighed one wheel, and at 17.4 lbs on our scale it came in only 1/2 pound more than the claimed 16.9 lbs, which is better than normal for claimed weights, from our experience. With their high prices its easy to understand the confusion, but upon inspection I noted that the WedsSports were simply a one-piece "flow formed" wheel (like D-Force, SSR, some BBS and others) and not a "forged wheel" as some folks like to think. I mounted the 265/35/18 Toyo R1Rs to this set for the coming autocross weekend and weighed them together; the wheel and tire package came in at a scant 43.1 lb per corner .

Putting these pricey WedsSports on for the first time was a pucker moment - the spokes only cleared the Brembo front caliper by about .040". It was a close one but it works, and we've run with wheels this tight to this caliper in the past. It definitely fits inside the stock fenders with inches to spare - this is definitely NOT HellaFlush . :D For an autocross car I prefer a narrower track width, as this makes the car easier to navigate (and faster though) a tight slalom and allows the rear differential to work more efficiently. For road course use I'll let the track width push wide as you please, well, hopefully without disrupting aero (which will if the wheels push out past flush).

The wheels are fairly simple but very well made looking, and look damn good on the car, and so does the now lower rear ride heights. We tried these heights on 150#/in rear springs (and even 1/2" higher) and it bottomed the shocks (and nearly touched axle to frame) too often on the street, so we're scratching that one off the list of rates we recommend. The 175#/in rates worked well for daily driving and autocross both, and we're VERY happy with the performance improvements. You'll see this in the autocross pictures in my next post - its finally squatting well under acceleration (from the new ride height + new spring rate + new shock length + new piston and valving).

This WedsSport+Toyo package is now 13.8 pounds lighter per corner than the 56.7 lb OEM 19x9" wheels and tires , and remember: this is both rotational and unsprung mass. That's... just HUGE. We could possibly get the front rotors 10 lighter, too. We'll get the lead out of this Pony Car, by damn! The 18x9" Enkei FP-01s are still mounted with the 265/40/18 Yokohama AD08s (and weigh in at 48.2 lbs , or 5.1 pounds heavier than the Toyo/WedsSport combo) which we'll test back to back with the Toyos at an upcoming test day, and we'll share what we learn here.

We also had AST-USA put in some more compression in the base valving in the front struts, which was very noticeable and more matched the new rear shock valving added earlier. We weighed the AST + Vorshlag + Hyperco bits from the front suspension while it was off, and AJ cleaned up the rear of the chassis which had been covered in rear axle lube (new aluminum catch can and bracket parts are here and will be installed soon).

Costas asked what changes were in store for this coming autocross on Sunday, which he was scheduled to co-drive the Mustang in. I rattled off that we had new rear spring rate (450F/175R) and lower ride heights (14.5" F&R), new front strut valving, new adjustable and stiffer front swaybar. New cold air and SCT tune, with probably +35 whp if not more, a new rev limit 600 rpm higher, lighter 18x9" WedsSport wheels with a slightly narrower track width, and went from the taller Yokohamas at the last event to shorter and stickier Toyos. We also had planned on running 10 psi more tire pressure front and rear. "So... not so many changes?" :D

Race write-up is next...
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22 Apr 2011 11:55 AM
TeamRX8 wrote:
I have a set of 18 x 9 +55 SSR Type C Comp wheels I may want to part with (16.9# each). I think you can use a 5 x 114.3 wheel pattern?

ps: I can completely appreciate and understand your present frustration having been there myself in the RX8. Despite the slow start, we are all looking over are shoulder because we certainly expect the Mustang to be coming up on us at some point. Keep up the great work! Love this thread too.

Thanks for the kind words, Mark. That actually means a lot coming from such a fierce competitor such as yourself. :)

Yes, as you guessed I'm a little frustrated with the Solo performance of the S197 chassis right now, but we can count the number of serious efforts in solid axle RWD STX cars on two fingers. ;) I don't know how serious we look with this car as yet, getting mauled at local events, Pros and Tours alike, but we're damn sure not giving up. This car has stupid amounts of horsepower and lots of potential left in the suspension, once we get it sorted and lighter. We're testing no less than four competitive ST tires on the car (plus different springs, shock valving, and more) at a private auto-x test day a week from now, which the car has needed for months. And with around 200,000 Mustangs sold each year, its a market I cannot afford to ignore.

Dang, I wish I would have asked you about these SSRs sooner! I paid a kings ransom for the damned WedsSports, which turned out heavier than claimed (none too shocking), but I'm still relatively happy with them. Your SSRs are the exact size, offset and bolt circle that we need, actually.

Well... who can ever have too many race wheels?? Can you shoot me a price and some pics to fair (at) vorshlag (dot) com? :D If I could get these in the next week it would make our tire test go a LOT smoother (4 sets of tires but only 3 sets of wheels to test with). I'm sharing what we leanr in the tire test here, of course. 265mm Toyo, Yokohama, Hankook and Dunlop tires have been purchased for the test.

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22 Apr 2011 01:12 PM
Project Update for April 12, 2011: This is the autocross recap from Sunday April 10ths SCCA event at Lone Star Park. I forgot to mention in my previous "prep post" that we had new Hawk HP+ pads and rotors on the car, which were bedded in and seemed to work well on the street the past 2 weeks.

The LSP site with an asphalt parking lot surface and lots of weird hills and valleys, and the surface comes apart badly if you even look at it funny. Not my favorite place to race but that's where the competition was this week. The Texas Region event workers work diligently to clean the racing line before the runs begin but it doesn't matter much - it starts dirty and ends VERY dirty, with bad marbles evident offline after just a handful of runs.

Still we had lots of parts and set-up changes to test, and this event would have good STX class competition in the form of Chris Ledbetter and his co-driver Brian in the white E36 328is below (VTPP Tester, AST 4200s, car has placed at Nationals) as well as the debut of Brad Maxcy's black E36 328is (AST 5220s, also very fast driver), among others. Costas and I were to drive in STX and Amy in the PAX-factored "W" women's class. We had been placing pretty far behind both Brad and Chris (both driving in Chris' STX Bimmer) so far at the 3 autocross events we've done in the Mustang, and Amy had yet to place well in "W" in the car either. With all of the changes to the Mustang from the last 2 weeks we wanted to see where we now stood.

STX ran in the first heat so we lined up first in the 2 driver lane. Costas was one of the first cars on course, but with cold tires we knew that run wouldn't be his best. Even still, he was hopeful and our times were on par with the class. But he mentioned a loud BANGING that was evident in transitions. Hmm, that was worrisome. I made a run and noticed the same banging up front. Spooky loud. I pulled back around and we ran to the trailer for tools. Asked for a "mechanical" and we pulled the front wheels off. Costas noted a loose wheel bearing nut - very loose. The wheel would rock in-out by 1/4". WTH? That hub hasn't been off in many months (when we installed the long wheel studs).

[*] - Final Results
[*] - PAX results
We managed to get the 36mm wheel bearing nut sort of tighter (with all the wrong tools) and figured "that had to be the noise". Costas made his run #2, then so did I. Noise still there and VERY loud. We asked for a 2nd mechanical, pulled the front wheels back off, and checked more things hurriedly. Nothing evident. Costas took half of a 3rd run and aborted it from the sounds and a touch of ABS ice mode into one turn (only happened once all day and only in the worst of the gravel). I took a tentative 3rd and felt just as uneasy. We decided it was wise if skipped our 4th runs and avoided any potential damage. Drove the car back to the trailer and began a thorough tear down, hopefully getting the car repaired before the 3rd heat when Amy was to make her runs.

Impressions: My driving had lots of mistakes I can see on the videos, but I felt like the car was handling better than ever before . The brakes finally WORKED again, even on this gravel covered lot. The Toyo R1R tires seemed to like the new, higher tire pressures we were running (42F, 38R) and we ran the shock adjustments much higher per Brian at AST-USA's suggestion. That made the various transitions feel faster (but WOW the noise it was making) and front brake dive (and rear rise) was also down dramatically. The rear of the car was squatting well under acceleration (softer rear springs) and it was putting power down much better, but driving the car still involved varying degrees of wheel spin. Fun, and to be expected of ~400 whp on 265mm street tires. The new Steeda cold air made the engine sounds much nicer and finally audible to the driver, and the higher redline (7400) from the SCT Tuner was a welcome addition - all 3 drivers touched the higher rev limit just a tick on course, so we would have been shifting to 3rd with the original 6800 rpm limit.

Costas and I both noted some understeer at the two 180° turn-arounds, but Amy said it was a LOT better for her, so maybe the swaybar repairs we did fixed that. She said the car pivoted beautifully, which was not what we felt, as we were both resorting to "driving into corners on the brakes" to get it to understeer less at low speeds. At higher speeds the car was very neutral for us, though. All 3 drivers sprayed the tires with water after every run except the very first - we saw ambient temps of 88°F in the afternoon. That seemed to work fine, which was surprising given the weight of the car and the heat.

So before our run heat was even over Costas drove us in his B4C Camaro into glorious down town Grand Prairie (sarcasm) to find an AutoZone. We located a 36mm socket (needed to properly tighten the wheel bearing nut), and a few others we were missing. This allowed us to tighten every nut and bolt on the front suspension, and that's when Costas found the swaybar chassis mounts painfully loose. The brackets were shifting up and down under load, which explained the loud clunking in the slaloms. Wasn't really hurting anything but it wasn't allowing the swaybar to do its job properly, either. I had a talk with our tech here about the importance of tightening nuts and bolts properly on Monday morning, of course.

After we had everything tight and double checked half an hour later we went for a test drive to see that we did indeed fix the glitch. We had maybe 10 minutes of down time when we ate so by the 3rd run heat the car was prepped and ready for Amy. She worked course in heat 2 and we were assigned to course in heat 3, so as I passed her during a worker change and told her "Its fixed - drive hard, go fast, and let us know how it goes!"

She did just that, and put a solid second on the both of us in her last run. The car looked even better in the turn-arounds and she said it pivoted around them perfectly. Damn, wish we could have driven it like that. Oh well, she showed finally us that the Mustang has potential in STX. She won the "W" class and her raw time in her last run (where she ran over the base of a cone) would have placed her 2nd in STX, .3 sec back. She said she was pushing the car harder each run and was amazed at how well it handled transitions and the tight stuff, as well as the brakes finally being right again.

Click these two pics above for in-car video and Runs 1 & 2 result analysis

Since we were working course in heat 3 we didn't get a single picture of Amy driving, and she never turned on the video camera (doh!). Costas and I got a couple of our runs on video, and the quickest is linked above . We were within a few tenths of each other, but Costas only took 2 full runs, and all of our drives were before we fixed the clanging and banging swaybar. As you can see in the "results analysis" (linked here ) we were still in the hunt after 2 runs, but the rest of STX class got quicker in runs 3 and 4, as we fumbled in the pits trying to find the source of the banging. Ledbetter had a 47.9 (+1) and his co-driver Brian had a 48.0. Brad Maxcy had a 48.5 and Amy had a 48.3 (+1) and a 49.0 (clean). She didn't have any noises or issues to deal with and all of her runs were quick, but she felt like there was more left.

So we feel like, even as bad as we did in STX class, with the bolts and nuts all tight the car has potential. Amy proved that for us on her runs. Costas and I will autocross the car at an event (and maybe two) this coming weekend and report back again. This time I'll make sure every bolt that has touched on the car is tight, and we'll use Costas' DL-1 to data log the runs.

More soon,
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22 Apr 2011 01:20 PM
Project Update for April 20, 2011: So we don't end up with 8 events and a lot of modifications in one thread update, I'm trying to do them more quickly. Over the last week we only did one suspension update to the car, but it took a sizable amount of work over 2 days. Then I took the car to a local autocross last Saturday. That was a train wreck for me, with a course layout that was super tight/narrow, and the Mustang was a bear to fit through the gates. Pretty much wasted a day, but I did get some cold and warm weather data on the Toyos (none of it flattering). Then this week we've located some 18x10" track wheels, bought another set of STX tires to test with, and another new part for the Mustang arrived. Read below for more.

The front suspension on the S197 Mustang is pretty basic stuff: McPherson strut, spring mounted on the strut, with a beefy steel Lower Control Arm (LCA) that has two big rubber bushings. These bushings are very mismatched in size, with the rear unit being as big as a beer can and the front somewhat smaller, but they are at least lined up on the same axis. This means they are single axis of rotation bushings, which is a good place to use poly or nylon materials, especially if the bushings are large, rubber, and soft.

Our durometer hasn't arrived yet so I wasn't able to measure how soft the LCA bushings were, but the OEM rubber depressed easily by hand. Feels like a giant marshmallow, and I read somewhere that it was full of fluid as well. This is great for ride comfort and quiet, but will deflect badly under load, and we had noted some wheel deflection in some close-up pictures of the suspension under heavy loading. Toe change, camber loss - its never good for dynamic suspension geometry and overall handling to have super soft, large, compliant suspension bushings on a car. We began to look at solutions for the LCA bushings and more bits of this chassis months ago.

So the lone modification we did to the Mustang last week was the bushing replacement on the front LCA. Let me tell you up front - this was not a quick, easy or fun job to perform. Our tech AJ fought with this install for part of 2 days, and we had the right tools, a lift, a press, had all done poly bushing installs many times - everything stacked in our favor. The OEM Mustang front LCA bushings (especially the fluid-filled, gigantic back ones) are some of the nastiest I've ever seen.

Just getting the LCAs out of the car took a good bit of work. The front bushing bolts are blocked by the giant electric power steering unit, which had to be unbolted and slid forward (he left the steering shaft installed). Even then the bolt barely came out. For the bushing swap, we followed the Energy's instructions. This says to "apply heat to the outer shell", to break the bond of the rubber to metal, but we resorted to cutting and burning the bushing out of the outer sleeve. Then cut the bushing remnants from the inner sleeve (both sleeves are re-used). Nasty, messy work. The damn fluid was under pressure, too. We used heat, then fire, then drills and a saws-all. Maybe spent 5+ hours getting the first LCA done. The second LCA went a lot smoother...

This time AJ and Matt teamed up and used more heat and brainpower than we did the first time. With the LCA held in the vice, one of them used the torch on the metal while the other pulled on the bushing housing (with a water bottle nearby to put out the small flash fires that flared up). This process took some time but eventually, with enough heat and pulling, the outer sleeve pulled clean off the bushing. No time wasted cutting the bushing up or cleaning up the outer sleeve. The inner sleeve worked almost the same way, with careful heat and pressure.

The inner sleeve has a knurled section that has to be sanded off, as the bushing slides over that when its installed. We also went the extra step and, after the bushing was pressed into the outer sleeve (only) we drilled a hole and tapped the outer sleeve for a grease zerk. Then installed the inner sleeve (which can stay pressed onto the LCA the whole time). Now we can go back and grease the bushings easily - to keep them from squeaking later (a common complaint on poly bushings when the original grease gives out). We don't show the front bushing in this install gallery but it was smaller and easier to swap.

After a quick check of the toe (nothing changed) AJ and I loaded the Mustang into the trailer by 8 pm Friday night, ready for the autocross the next day.

April 16th NTAXS Autocross

We had found a local autocross on Saturday I could attend (co-driver's Amy and Costas were both out of town) so I tried to enter on Thursday... but it was full at 65 entrants already. I said as much on FB and within 2 minutes (gotta love the internet) had a friend willing to sell me his entry (thanks Jason!), so I was in. NTAXS is what remains of an S2000 autocross club, and they cater to mostly S2000 and Miata drivers. This event was to be held at Texas Motor Speedway bus lot (slick sealed asphalt I've autocrossed on at 40+ events in the past, so I know the surface well), and normally Jarrett J sets up their courses - who does most of the local autocross courses for other clubs as well (and does an excellent job).

So I towed out there early and it was pretty cold in the morning, mid 40's and 10-20 mph winds. The surface was going to be slick, but it was predicted to get into the mid 70's that afternoon. With 4 runs in the morning and 4 more after lunch, I'd at least get some varied track temperature runs on the Toyos. Walked the course with Chris Ledbetter and we both groaned at the extreme tightness of some gates and oddly tight corner layouts... this course was made for a NARROW car. Sure enough, another course designer had set-up the course (his first), an S2000 driver, who ended up hitting cones on 4 of his 8 runs himself. Lots of DNFs, lots of cones felled, etc.

So long story short, the wider Mustang wasn't well suited for this course. At all. I was driving my ass off and just could not get the car to put any power down on this cold, slick surface. The uber-tight turn-arounds were also killing time, too. The tires didn't work worth a damn in the cold temperatures, yet after my first 4 runs (which are run in quick succession) the tires were badly overheated - front and rear. Tire pressures crept up by over 10 psi. Yikes. Another Toyo equipped STR Miata had similar troubles - no grip - and their tires made equally loud noises compared to the others (and they were uncharacteristically off the pace).

Watching cars in the 2nd heat of the morning, while I was then working course, they looked quicker as the track temperature began to rise. Sure enough, Ledbetter and Ken O were both running almost 3 seconds quicker than my heat 1 times. Not good, but not surprising.

After the lunch break the temps were in the 60's for heat 3, when I ran again. This time I moved my spray bottle, air gauge and gear over to the exit of the course, where I'd have about 60+ seconds between runs waiting in a short line, to pile out and spray tires/check pressures. Luckily I had some help this time (Ledbetter's co-driver Sherrie) and she bled tire pressures down while I sprayed and sprayed the quickly overheating Toyo R1Rs between runs. I held up the flow into the start line a bit, waving them around, but these tires were just boiling hot after each run - even with ambient temp still in the 60°F range. Rear wheel spin was still ridiculous but with lower pressures (dropped to 35 F/32 R for this lower grip lot) I could at least get some forward motion going on these runs. Still had some push in the tight turn-arounds but with this back-to-back run format there's no time to make real set-up changes (other than pressures and shock knobs, which I did). To me, running an event "the SCCA way" (with time between runs to make adjustments) makes for a more useful use of the time.

My 4 afternoon runs were 2 full seconds faster than my morning 4, which is an unusual gain for me at this site, even over that much ambient/track temperature change. I guess after 23 years you'd say I'm "a seasoned autocrosser" and don't tend to pick up huge amounts of time after my first 3-4 runs, so I chalk that 2 sec gain up to the set-up changes (lowering tire pressure), tire spraying (lots of water!), and warmer track temps. Still, I was well off the afternoon pace. Ledbetter's later 4 runs got .8 sec faster than earlier, and Ken O was almost 1 sec quicker as well. That left me still pretty far back from both...

[*]Results =

When I checked times on the computer and print-outs throughout the day there were only 3 cars in class 3, which I led to the end. It appears some Honda looks to have been moved into the class. Who knows? I couldn't hear a thing from the announcer that was useful - just a bunch of clowning. Just look at the the times from Chris Ledbetter (STX BMW 328is) and Ken Orgeron (STU legal E46 BMW M3), the only other competitive STX and STU RWD cars. They were both on different tires (Chris on 255mm RS3s and Ken O on 285mm Dunlops) and ran in hotter times of the day (heats # 2 & 4) but both of them crushed my times... Ledbetter was 1.7 sec quicker and Ken was 1.1 quicker. I worked course when they both ran and they looked so much more stuck down - still skating somewhat on the slick TMS surface, but not the excessive wheel spin and loudly squalling tires like the Toyos were doing on the Mustang.

Lessons Learned: My times on that tight-assed course were a bust, but I learned that Toyo R1Rs are not all that in the cold, yet they can easily overheat - even in cooler temperatures. I won't make a run on these ever again without massive water spraying afterward. We'll get more accurate (pyrometer) data on this phenomenon at the big tire test we're going to do in 2 weeks. I left my video camera mount at the shop, so I couldn't take any in-car video - which would have been good for a laugh. ;) We now have an extensive "trailer load list", with this and many other items listed and checked before each event. Also, bring a co-driver or find a helper at autocross events that have back-to-back runs like this, if you hope to check tire pressures and spray tires between runs, or if you'd like to make even the smallest of set-up changes. Lastly - know who the course designer is up front, or find a course map before you go to the trouble and expense of making an event. The NTAXS event folks always put on a great event, but this particular course really didn't work with this 71" wide car (several other "wide car" drivers said the same).

What's Next?

The latest things we're working on include finding some man-sized track wheels (18x10" or wider) and better track-worthy tires (not street tires). Not wasting any more time running NASA TTB class on skinny street meat with the rest of the class on wider Hoosiers. We've finally stumbled upon some 18x10" wheels that came off of a GRAND AM Mustang FRC500, shown below.

I've purchased seven of these 18x10" Forgelines but I need to get them from North Carolina to Dallas, TX - anyone that wants to make some $ delivering the wheels from I-95 in NC to I-20 in Dallas, please PM me. UPS is pretty spotty on delivering wheels to me that aren't boxed properly (these will likely have tires) so I'll either try to find space on an existing traveler's truck or call a freight company. Thanks!

We'll check, measure, and possibly rebuild these 3-piece wheels after they get here and hopefully they fit the 2011 with some wider tires. I'm going to try the 275mm Continental slicks or something similar (R6), which will allow us to stay in TTB and hopefully lower lap times a good bit.

We also got in a set of 265/35/18 Hankook RS-3 tires to test with in STX. I'm not too fond of the Toyos after that fiasco last weekend. Figured since we have 2 set of 18x9" STX wheels, a private auto-x test coming up, and the Toyos and Yokohamas, why not try the Hankooks at the same time? I've even managed to borrow a set of 18x9.5" wheels with 275/35/18 Dunlop Star Specs mounted... we'll test those and ponder those numbers as well. This will be as scientific of a test as we can manage: durometer, pyrometer, data logging, and timers with 3 competitive drivers over many runs. I will share this test as a tech article. Yes, GRM does a very nice series of autocross tire tests almost every year, including one on the "140-200" hot street tires, but they always seem to use light, small cars with narrower sizes than the 265mm we need. And from the rumors I've heard some of the ultra-small sizes have "unique compounds" that are softer than the wider tires we use have. Our autocross data seems to sometimes prove some long standing data inaccurate, which is mostly based on the narrower sizes. So....we'll see. May the best tire win!

Last but not least, the APR GTC-300 CF wing arrived yesterday.

I'm working up a set of stands that will fit the Mustang and another to fit the E30. This wing could be used at track events like the UTCC in July (E30?) or for NASA TT events (Mustang). On the Mustang, in TTB I'm already taking a +4 point hit for a "non-OEM wing configuration" (the OEM optioned rear cosmetic wing delete), so with this carbon 6 foot wingspan perched up above the roofline, I will bloody well get my 4 points worth . :D

Sorry if I seem a bit grumpy in this post, but well... I am a grumpy old bastard. ;) The bushing install made a total mess of the shop and took longer than it should have. At least we know the shortcuts for this one, now. And I can't disguise my disappointment in the results from the autocross, and the course layout was far from my favorite. I'm sure the predominantly S2000 & Miata guys loved it, as it worked great for those cars. And being that the club caters to those cars, I can't fault them for that.

Until next time,
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22 Apr 2011 07:26 PM
emailed you about the SSRs

if somebody can get the wheels you need delivered to Blytheville for the Pro next weekend I can get them back to DFW, which BTW I'm sorry to see that you're not attending. We need another STX competitor to make a class of 5 ...
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11 May 2011 04:14 PM
Project Update for May 9, 2011: So since my last post we've learned a lot, made significant changes in the set-up, found a ton of time on autocross courses. And we've decided to never track the Mustang again.

*** No more NASA TTB for the Vorshlag 2011 GT! ***

I know some of you will be disappointed to hear this, but please let me 'splain.

First, dual purpose autocross/time trial cars are always at the mercy of one set of rules, and that was very much the case here. Building around NASA TTB was severely limiting our choices in the STX autocross class. Over time I've come to realize that NASA has put this car into a poor base class (TTB) and with the high base weight (3770) its saddled with + the "points" system for modifications, it is crippled into uncompetitiveness in TTB or TTA, and cuts out fully half of the available suspension and power mods we could legally do in STX. No two ways about it - we cannot get enough tire under the car in TT for the weight it has, nor can we get anywhere near the power-to-weight limit and still stay within TTB, or for that matter, TTA.

I had thought about buying wider 18x10" wheels and going to Hoosiers for TTA, but the numbers just don't look very good. The typical TTA type cars will all be hundreds of pounds lighter, and this car simply cannot get there with the points left for that class. I'm not blaming anyone or going to stop racing in NASA TT, mind you, just coming to the realization that this chassis isn't classed or suited for TT.

We will run our 2011 GT in TTB (or TTA) no more...

The ruleset in the SCCA's Street Touring category, however, allowed us to do SO much more to the suspension and horsepower mods on this chassis than NASA TTB or even TTA allows, which is pretty funny considering STX is one of the slower ST category classes . STU and STR are both faster, and sometimes ST and STS are as well - STX itself could not only be the slowest ST class, but is often the slowest class at a given autocross event . But hey, its a different ball game in autocross, and a different set of rules. Its not like the 2011 GT is going to be an overdog in STX, not hardly, but it has a much better chance there than in TTB. Took me too long to finally come to this conclusion.

We came to this realization over time, after running the car at several track events this year and after looking at dozens of cars in TT classing. Just last week after a friend asked us to help him work up the TT classing for a 1998-2002 Camaro LS1 car. This car - which has a similar stock power to weight ratio as the 5.0L powered S197 - has a base class of TTD* (TTD +7 points) and a base weight of 3439 lbs, allowed to run fully 331 lbs lighter. After some more searching we quickly realized that every iteration of the S197 Mustang (its classed in 4 base classes, depending on year and engine) is fighting a losing battle in TT due to poor base classing compare to this otherwise very similar Camaro, among other cars - like the TTB BMWs that are currently winning that class handily. We helped him put together a TTC build sheet for the 4th gen LS1 F-Body that looked pretty unstoppable, and on paper (and from personal experience owning/racing in these) it would be faster than we could hope to get our 2011 GT in the "faster" TTB class. Just one example, but you get the idea.

Building for TT competitively means you need to be able to hit the power-to-weight max for the class, and still have enough points for a large enough R compound (Hoosier) tire for your (stipulated by NASA) given minimum chassis weight, and the '11 Mustang just doesn't work out that way no matter how you build it. Not trying to say these cars aren't fun and fast on track - they are - just that for NASA TT, they are too far out of the hunt to be not worth the expense, the risk, the effort, or the limitation to our STX prep any longer.

Second, Time Trial use with a new $35K car, that is still under the factory drivetrain warranty, is unwise. Tracking any car you cannot afford to write-off after an accident is pretty short sighted , and since I cannot control all of the variables that can cause an accident on track (other people's fluid spills, others' diving mistakes, etc), this car is going strictly to autocross/street duty. I've seen some nasty crash videos lately that made me re-think tracking heavily in this the cage/rollbar-less car. I tell friends and customers literally every day this same mantra - don't track your only street car, or any car you're making payments on, or any car you cannot afford to crash. And having a full cage in a street car is not safe without a helmet.

But look at it this way - pulling this car out of NASA TT will let us concentrate on making a competitive shot at STX class , which hasn't seriously been attempted in a V8 RWD car like this. This also unleashes many potential mods we couldn't do because of TT points, and this car looks more favorable in STX after we found some MAJOR performance gains in set-up changes in the recent autocross test-n-tune event (see below).

I am already looking to acquire another S197 chassis for a competitive W2W track car, in a class that is much more balanced with similar cars like the 4th gen F-Body. If you know of a 2010 Mustang V6 or GT that is a salvage title/flood car/affordable car, please drop me a line. That's a whole different story for another day, another thread.

Latest Mustang Mods

We've done two things in the past weeks to the Mustang. The night before the Test event (see below) we built a fixed seat bracket and the 2nd Cobra Suzuka kevlar race seat was finally installed. So there's another 30 lbs dropped. Its a fixed mount floor bracket that puts the passenger Cobra seat as low and far back as we can get it - the passenger sits almost 2" lower than the driver's side and even tall passengers can't reach the firewall with their feet. Perfect. Since we're not tracking it anymore, nobody can complain that we have fixed back seats in a track car without a roll bar - for parking lot events it matters not one iota. Car's don't flip over in parking lots.

We've also taken all of the NASA decals and class/extra number markings off the car, and although the de-cluttered look is certainly appealing, its only temporary. I spent an evening cleaning the car up after these were removed, using the clay bar to get the adhesive off and getting the car free of cone marks as well. Long overdue. We're still looking for the right "Vorshlag theme" to apply to this and our other 4 race cars, so graphic designers that want to show their stuff, please send me a note . Thanks.

This got pretty long so I'll cover the Test-N-Tune results below.
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11 May 2011 04:19 PM
Project update for May 10, 2011:

So, back to autocross performance of this 2011 GT. To say we have been struggling with the car in STX this season is an understatement: We've been getting beaten badly at both Regional and National SCCA events. The car started with off-the-shelf AST coilovers, our camber plates, 18x9" wheels, a 265mm street tire, and we just started autocrossing it. We've made a lot of updates since then but the results haven't been improving much. Sure, its faster, just not remarkably so. From day one we've been fighting to keep the rear tire spin under control - it was always a real motherf*cker to drive in a parking lot. As in - harder than anything I've autocrossed in the past decade. Rear traction under acceleration always severely limited every aspect of an autocross run. We also fought some other issues, but it always drove like it had 600 whp and 225mm mud and snow tires. It didn't matter how smooth you were on the throttle - it was always in a constant state of power oversteer, but we just came to accept that.

Costas, Amy and I got used to dancing that sideways dance, tip-toeing on the throttle at every corner exit, for months. On a road course (where you are in higher gears, and usually either WOT or almost completely off throttle most of the time) it was much easier to deal with, but in an autocross situation - where we are using part throttle so much more often than full throttle - we're slipping and sliding around like a greased pig. Also, on wet road courses it was also VERY difficult to control the back end of the car, and I had lots of oversteer issues in slow corners at both MSR-H and HHR in the wet.

April 29, 2011 - Riverside Annex Test-N-Tune

Pictures:" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

Come to find out, we needed another set of drivers that hadn't been driving it since day one to give us some much needed perspective. Another set of eyes/hands/feet to see the issues clearly. We got that and more at" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">">this private test day on April 29th . Todd F set up this event with AST-USA and we got the invite, as did 5 autocross cars. This was an intense day of testing, on concrete, with AST's shock valving trailer on site to make valving changes to test and verify on the spot. Couldn't have asked for a more ideal situation, and we're thankful Todd and AST let us join them. We brought lots of tools: DL1 data logger, Chase cam video aimed at the front tire, timers, durometer, pyrometer, and more. This degree of testing on this car was long overdue, and much information was gained - I'm still sorting through the data. I'll give a highlight of what we learned in this post and follow up with more data and video as time permits." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

The Course

The site was the Riverside Annex, and the area was the 4-10 split, and the surface is concrete. The course laid out was typical for our Test-N-Tune events. It was 30 seconds in length, with a constant radius sweeper on one end, a decreasing radius on the other, with one long side of slaloms (60' spacing) and big offsets on the other side's length. The Mustang was only at WOT for maybe 2-3 seconds per run, so it was not a power course. To simplify testing it was run as a continuous circuit, with a start/finish line where we could mark consecutive laps, and each driver usually made 3-4 laps at a time with a running start. This minimized starting/launching variables, minimized driver learning curves, and made for quicker testing. So the driver would make a half lap before the start, then lap/lap/lap, then come in to look at times, adjust pressures, check data, and we'd shag any cones knocked down.

We used to hold 2-3 of these private Vorshlag autocross test-n-tune events for our own cars and VTPP testers every year, but haven't held one in 2 years, and it has showed. Our DSP run last year in the E46 was a train wreck, as was our untested E30 autocross set-up at the 2010 GRM challenge. Its hard to learn enough in a 4 run autocrosses to make speedy set-up progress or test things back to back, but when you can make 70 runs in a day (like we typically do at our test-n-tune events), you can learn and test a lot of variables much more rapidly. We had about 60 runs logged in the Mustang at this event, and we learned an enormous amount in only 6 hours." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

So we got down to the site at around 9:30 am on that Friday, quickly unleaded the trailer, and helped set-up then mark the course - half of which was already up when we got there. We had 3 sets of wheels and 4 set of tires we had on hand to test (we ran out of time and didn't get the Hankook RS3s mounted or tested that day), plus we wanted to try some new shock settings and maybe even new base valving. As anyone running in Street Touring knows, there are a LOT of tires in the 140-200 treadwear range to test, and for this particular class & car there are at least 7 different potentially competitive tires we could choose from. We have very limited outside test data to rely upon for this somewhat unique STX car (heavier and more powerful than anything else run in ST so far) and max tire size (265mm), as we've been running in other classes (on Hoosier Rs) or on 245mm tires in STU for other cars in the past few years. Also, the ST tire tests done in GRM the past few years have been on smaller and lighter cars (Miatas and Civics), and the tires that are fast on those don't always "Scale up" to the bigger and more powerful cars like our 3600 pound mustang with 400 whp. :D" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

Baseline Set-up Testing

Before we could start putting the various tire brands to the test, we needed to play with a few things on the baseline set-up, and make the big shock adjustments. Before that, we had to get the driver familiar with the course, the site, and the existing set-up. A quick note about the existing setup: It has been a constant blur of changes, with never more than a few runs without some variables changed radically. That's pretty much a nightmare. We have never been to an autocross event where at least 3 or more major things had not been changed. Costas would jump in the car to make his run and if we were lucky, Amy and I might get a few miles around the block to test the latest round of changes. At the last event Costas drove the car at he had to quickly learn to drive with these changes: new Tires/Pads/Wheels/Front Swaybar/ECUmap/Coldair/etc. Whew! We were all very much looking forward to getting more acquainted with the car with a lot of runs today.

We came with 2 drivers, myself and Costas, but I had just run a LeMons endurance race the weekend before where I think I fractured a rib (3 weeks later it is still very painful). Long story short after one half of a lap on the 30 second autocross test course I was doubled over in pain and out of the car for the day. The race seat was digging into the injured rib on left turns, so this meant that one more variable would be removed from our testing - the driver. Costas took over as the main test driver for the day and I was on stop watch/tire pressure/durometer/camera duty. This would actually speed up our testing, as one driver could minimize the driver learning curve more quickly than two, and he's already shown to be super consistent, and we've typically been no more than .1 sec apart at most events." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

So Costas ran half a dozen warm up laps to familiarize himself with the car and course, and his times quickly stabilized to within .1 sec between most runs. We then started "Baseline testing" the shock settings and tire pressures on the Yokohama AD08 tires, which are a very known quantity for us having run them on another ST car in 2009 and at most events this year on the Mustang. We also had Brian Hanchey and Stuart M of AST-USA on hand to closely watch the car as Costas got acclimated to the course and the Yokohamas, and Brian noticed something weird going on straight away. He made some shock adjustments and the car was a tick quicker, and we made some tire pressure adjustments (trying some radically new pressures) and found a few tenths more, but it was still the usual handful to drive.

Hanchey then hopped in and took a few laps, to see how it felt first hand (invaluable), fought it the whole way, then hopped out and said "How in the F*** are you DRIVING it like this?!!" We then asked Stuart to make some laps and he felt the same way, and has a 2006 GT that he daily drives and tracks as well. Later that day, former F Stock champion Casey Weiss took a few runs in it also; he's been running in S197 cars the past 3 years in F Stock. Same observation - the throttle is WAY too sensitive, car is too hard to drive. Hanchey has two decades of experience, as does Casey and Stuart, and they were all 2 seconds off the pace even after a few laps. That's not a knock on their driving - no, its showing that this mess of a set-up is that hard to get used to. I've co-driven with Weiss and Hanchey many times over the past 20+ years, and they can usually hop into any car and go fast as Hell within 1-2 laps. But when proven, fast drivers like these hop in the car, and it still takes a significant learning curve. Luckily we've already been "learning" this for months. Given another dozen laps they would have been right on pace. Even after 5+ autocross events in the car and dozens of laps, its still difficult. Costas was literally making throttle changes with his toes thru thin racing shoes - not the typical ankle movements - its that sensitive." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

Left: Costas during one of our many tire changes for the day. Right: Hanchey working with some F Stock racers on ASTs in a 2007 Shelby

They all felt that because of the very abrupt power application the car was nearly undrivable, and certainly holding us back. Hanchey was convinced the car had serious throttle tip-in/mapping errors. We've been fighting it all year, just thought it was supposed to be this hard with 400 whp through 265mm street tires. From an outside perspective - it was obvious. This was a 30 second test course run entirely in 2nd gear, nowhere near redline but always in the meat of the powerband on every corner or transition exit. Hanchey said to "try a run in 3rd gear" to prove his point. I told him that was crazy, but we humored him. Costas made 3 laps in third gear. It was ~2000-2500 rpm lower than in 2nd gear at every spot on course. He came in and said "No way, that felt SLOW", but it was .3 sec faster - best run of the day so far. WTF?! Yes, there is a problem with power application and this proved it.

Now it wasn't faster on every lap. He took 3 laps like that to get used to it, and the first lap was slower, the second lap was even, and the last was a bit quicker then all previous laps. It was the change in power application, but also a *large* change in lines he took through the cones. Very different line could be utilized with the less sensitive throttle. More of a "momentum" line than a point and shoot line. But in the end, it was faster cutting back on the power by running the higher gear through the course.

Why is that? Let's explain - modern fly-by-wire throttle systems have the ability to have the throttle response (correlation between % pedal opening and % throttle body opening) tweaked, by both the OEMs and aftermarket tuners. The "trick" is to make the throttle mapping much more "falling rate" or digressive, which make the cars "feel faster". This means - the first small percentage of pedal opening makes for a LARGE percentage of throttle opening. So when you barely give the car a little gas pedal, its opening the throttle very aggressively, and it FEELS FAST . Which makes it very difficult to delicately adjust throttle, which is all you do in an autocross with a powerful car. That's been the case all along with this car, both with the stock tune and the aftermarket tune we added via the SCT Tuner. This is actually the 2nd throttle mapping we've tested and its still MUCH too aggressive.

Throttle Mapping Issue = Found!

What we actually need, to make the car easier to control at lower speed events like autocrosses, is a rising rate throttle map as described and charted on page 36 of Neil Robert's excellent "Think FAST" book . And I quote, "A rising rate throttle... provides fine control over the lower power end of the throttle range. That helps you blend cornering into forward acceleration smoothly and early" . An example of this from the 1960s was the uber-powerful and light Can Am cars, another quote, "Jim Hall said that a rising rate throttle linkage was an absolute must on the big block Chevy (1000+ hp) Chevy-engined Chaparral Can Am cars to make them anywhere close to being drivable." We don't have a 1000 hp big block underhood but we are trying to take 400 whp V8 and power it through somewhat narrow street tires, and do so in a parking lot, in lower gears, with abrupt power transitions." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

So the throttle mapping is a big thing that needs to be changed , and throughout the day I kept asking Costas to make a run or two in 3rd gear, every hour or so. And every single time, on every set of tires, and every permutation of shocks, the car was as fast or faster in 3rd , a higher than optimal gear, because it was so much more drivable. Matching those times in 2nd gear took extreme control and wasn't nearly as repeatable. The shop that is providing our custom SCT tunes for the Mustang was called and we described the issue in great detail; we were already on a supposedly less aggressive throttle map, but now a third custom tune was created, and Paul M and I just loaded it to the Mustang this evening. We'll be testing this in anger this coming weekend at a SW Texas Divisional series 2-day event." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

The next big revelation was in shock revalving. We had already had AST-USA revalve the fronts but the rears were still pretty much "off the shelf". Hanchey had a suggestion, we asked them to try the valving change he thought would help, they revalved the shocks on the spot, and it made a huge difference in times right off. It has us thinking about some even more radical shock ideas to test in the near future- which, for business reasons, I'm going to test before we explain these plans.

After this significant jump in times was from the shocks verified on several more laps with the Yokohamas we moved on to the Toyo R1Rs, then the Dunlops, each time re-verifying the shock settings front and back as well as the tire pressures that worked best on the Yokes. So which tire won? Well, it was pretty close between two of them, and I don't want to spill everything just yet (need time to crunch numbers and edit video), but the Toyos are for sale...

Fresh set of 265/35/18 Toyo R1Rs ..... now FOR SALE!

These R1R tires are still full of tread and have less than 20 total autocross runs on them, all in the last 6 weeks. Still very fresh, great durometer numbers, so how about $600 + shipping? Probably make great track tires for somebody (and I will keep them for just that if I only get low-ball offers). They won't be going back on this Mustang for STX use, that's for sure. We do really like the Dunlops, even these 3 year old former street tires we tested with. I bet you will see a fresh set on our car soon, for testing head to head with the Hankooks and Yokohamas, and possibly in some unusual sizes. We learned some things that day that we want to verify with even more testing.

We didn't have time to run into town and have the Hankooks mounted - the 265/35/18 Hankook RS3. So we've already mounted those and they will be run this weekend at the SW Divisional here at TMS. But as the day was winding down we did re-mount the first set of ours - our control set, the Yokohamas. We noticed only a slight uptick against the original times, so the temperature creep didn't account for more than .1 sec of our overall gains, from beginning of day to end.

OK, so what did we learn? How much time did we gain, if any? From the beginning of the day, starting with shock and tire pressure settings we'd refined so far this season, to the end of the day, we found 1.1 seconds on a 30 second course. That's.... a lot. This was between testing some unusual tire pressures, the various tire testing, and most of all the shock changes (valving changes uncovered almost a second alone - you can't tell me "shocks don't matter much"). And this is still with 2nd gear power application almost impossible , and the car quicker in 3rd gear. Will this latest round of improvements + a new throttle map translate to a more competitive car on a full SCCA sized course? We hope so." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">" />

THere's a couple of stills from the "tire cam" videos (that I still need to edit/upload) showing sidewall deflection; the Toyo was compared to the Dunlop & Yokohama. Costas also managed to replicate that unusual "limp mode"" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">">error icon on the dash that I ran into event last month. It happened 3 times during the day, but he wasn't allowing any more wheelspin than normal, just the same massive amount we always see in 2nd gear. He'd notice an abrupt lack of power, abort the run and come in to show the icon; I snapped a picture of it. To clear the error you have to turn the key off and restart the car. Odd.

More soon,
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18 May 2011 07:40 PM
Project Update for May 18, 2011: There was a 2-day SCCA Divisional autocross last weekend here in Ft. Worth (Texas Motor Speedway asphalt bus lot) and I just got finished with the video edits and picture uploads. I haven't had time to do the "tire cam" videos or DL-1 data maps from the tire test from the last update - sorry! But we did so some more "tire testing" this weekend, by running the 265/35/18 Hankook RS3 tires in the event. And in case you haven't heard the latest news -
* PAX:
* Pictures & Video:

Since Costas had a work thing come up this weekend he was out, so it was Amy running in the Women's PAXed class (instead of a bunch of 1-car Ladies classes the women in our region have put together a combined PAXed class similar to ProSolo's L1/L2) and me running in STX. We walked the course and it was BIG and had LONG straights, which should suit the higher powered Mustang in STX. Armed with a perfect course (thanks, JJ!) and what we learned at the Riverside Test-n-tune 2 weeks ago (new shock valving, perfected settings and tire pressures, lighter set-up with 2 race seats) I was feeling better about our chances this weekend. Well, other than the fact that neither Amy nor I made a single lap at the Test-n-tune due to her not being there and my fractured rib. So... hopefully my notes and talking with Costas about his "revised driving style" from that event would help? And we had a new throttle map from Steeda that we loaded this week, so it should be "easier to control" the rear tires this time. Right?

In-car videos from Amy's Day 1 runs; left is run 1, right is run 4

Yea... not so much. Amy ran first and she said wheelspin was horrible. The new throttle map was just as aggressive. Ridiculous. Needless to say I'm looking for a local SCT-capable tuner that can work with us on this. So Amy went into "crutch mode" and made the rest of her laps almost entirely in 3rd gear. She dropped 3 seconds just by sticking it into 3nd gear on her 2nd run. Its sad, but this cuts power down yet lets the car still accelerate well enough. You then have to modify your line and "momentum drive" it like a Miata. Well, a 70" wide Miata . She was also battling with COLD track and tire temps also, with ambient only in the high 40s but 20+ mph winds that kept us all shivering. She knocked some time down and had a .25 sec lead over W (mostly STX cars) at the end of her first day's 4 runs.

I ran in the next heat, where it warmed up a touch . I had bumped my injured rib up against a fence while taking pictures of Amy during her runs, so I now had serious, bone-deep pain - and no pain killers with me. I could barely breath while belted into the race seat, and was frustrated with the jacked up throttle map, leading to some pretty impressive looking (driftoro!) but otherwise slow paced runs for me. Excuses: I've got plenty!

That sideways crap is deep into 3rd gear. The course workers were RUNNING for their lives, but I never hit a cone all weekend

So it was back to the same old power oversteer antics, lots of 2nd gear rev limiter, refusing to upshift when the tires were spinning, trying all sorts of stupid lines, pushing my braking zones too far, choppy lines, not driving smooth - nothing worked, and I was in massive pain the whole time. Long story short, after my 4 runs I was 1.3 sec back from Ledbetter's STX E36 328is, buried in 6th place out of 8. And as poorly as I drove, I wasn't surprised.

In-car video from Terry's Day 1 runs. Left is run 1 (sideways), right is run 4 (not much better)

Day 2 started off a lot better for both of us. It was the same course, run backwards, but it drove smoother/flowed better this way for some reason. The big decreasing radius right hand straight/turn became an increasing radius left hand straight/turn, which allowed for a lot more traction and speed in this RWD car. I had also watched our Day 1 runs on video and saw where Amy was going too slow/too smooth and where I was too aggressive/driving too deep into corners. Our straight speeds looked 15-20 mph different!

I asked her to push it more on corner exits and try to use a little more 2nd gear (and do a lot of up/downshifts), while I toned down my corner exits dramatically, also making as many as four 4 upshifts/downshifts per run. Any place where I had wheelspin I would upshift to 3rd, then go back down to 2nd into the next turn. Kept the feet busy, but it worked. Amy had some runs where she kept using 3rd on much of the course but was all much more aggressive. Our modified driving style on Day 2 paid off - with zero set-up changes we were both faster relative to our classes/field on this day.

In-car video from Terry's Day 2 runs. Left is run 1 (quick out of the box), right is run 4 (.3 sec faster)

After her 4 runs Amy was .75 sec ahead of the next closest W class entrant after both days, looked significantly faster, and was only .7 slower than me for Day 2 (again running on a colder part of the day). I had a quick first run (51.3, almost Ledbetter to within .003), which was still more or less still 2nd fastest after my 4th run improved slightly (51.0), again almost exactly tied with Ledbetter for Day 2 and only .2 sec behind his co-driver. That felt good, and if the event had been a one day thing and Ledbetter didn't have his 4th run, I would have almost called this a victory. :D

So Ledbetter was already the winner for the weekend by the time he came to the line for his 4th run, and then he busted off a pressure-free time that was a solid .7 sec faster than me for the day. Damn.... you gotta kick a brother while he's feeling good?! Heheh... Nice job Chris! He's a Vorshlag VTPP tester and has been on fire this year. :)

As you can see, on day 2 I was still a bit "exuberant" with the throttle...

So after 2 days of runs I was 1.9 sec off the pace at our little Divisional. Not good, but Day 2 felt a lot better after I had some time to adapt to the new suspension set-up and driving style. Toning down my asshat driving antics made the biggest difference; masking the throttle issues by upshifting also helped, but doesn't fix the root cause. I think I still need more seat time to get used to the set-up, and to further smooth my inputs, and we all still need a rising rate throttle to be able to control the wheel spin issues. So instead of dropping $1900 (on fuel/hotel/entry fees/food) and missing 2 days of work we are not going to attend the double-header Pro & Tour in Lincoln, NE over Memorial Day weekend in 2 weeks. That sucks, but we just are not "in the hunt" right now and can better expend our time & resources at another test day (where we can get 70+ runs, not 4, and try more set-up changes) and then follow up with more local and Divisional head-to-head competition before we start traveling to more "big autocross events".

We also still have a LOT of areas on the car untouched - just scratched the surface. And since the car is no longer held back by NASA TT class limits, we're going to explore them all. We've already got more parts in hand to test with this week - things which directly should help with rear traction. There are still 100 pounds left to remove legally, if not more. And I've got leads on some SCT tuner shops that are local to us (Dallas) that I'll go see about this whacked out throttle map.

How about the Hankooks? We also need to verify the performance of the 265/35/18 Hankook RS3s vs 265/40/18 Yokohama AD08s (control tire) vs 265/35/18 Dunlops vs "another set we're going to be testing", at another test day soon. Lots of runs, figure out the best tires, then play with the IR tire array and get the ideal camber and pressures. Once we finalize the tires (too many choices!) we can start hacking away at the other many variables. After 16 runs on them between the 2 of us we like the Hankooks so far , and they seem to make good grip, but "they didn't feel as consistent or turn-in like the Yokohamas" (quoting Amy). She's won big on Yokohamas, and I guess have done my best on them as well (a 2nd at Nats), but we're going to reform our opinions based on lots of back-to-back testing on the current generation tires and try to ignore the internet chatter and our own past experiences.

We're also still shooting to get to 450 whp in STX, and somehow we've going to get it to the pavement. Stay tuned - we're not giving up!
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20 May 2011 06:08 PM
Mini-update May 20, 2011: Pictures DO say a thousands words. A buddy of ours (STX competitor and VTPP tester Brad Maxcy) took some great shots of the Mustang at the Divisional last weekend. He has an awesome camera/lens and is also not a total photo hack like me.

These close-ups show that the car looks pretty composed in most corners, well, at least when Amy is driving (when I'm behind the wheel its nothing but jackassery). Loaded up laterally like this it looks to be cornering pretty flat, outside front wheel still shows negative camber, and the inside front is just barely staying on the ground.

The outside rear wheel is definitely going into positive camber under load. We need to see what we can do about that. Could be all of the sloppy rubber bushings in the rear suspension all loading up....

More soon,
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Veteran Member

03 Jun 2011 11:05 AM
Project Update for June 2, 2011: We dropped the Mustang off at True Street Motorsports in McKinney, TX today and they fixed all manner of things + diagnosed some other quirks we've run across. I finally found a good tuner shop (just 6 miles north of our location) that can custom dyno tune the 2011 GT via the SCT tuner we have, and they already have a great reputation. The owner of the shop also owns a 2011 Mustang 5.0 GT, which they've modded and tuned already.

Their tuning guru Sean Burt (who, as luck would have it, tuned our 7.0L Alpha car's new motor when it made 488 whp, back at LG Motorsports in 2009) started out by getting a baseline dyno run in the car with the existing custom tune + the Steeda cold air installed, which was 389 whp right at 5000 miles on the odometer. This compares to the initial dead-stock dyno pull (on the same style DynoJet 224) of 367 whp at 500 miles on the odometer (uncorrected it was 378 whp - it was a cold day) on Nov 18, 2010 (see bone stock dyno chart below).

This was the corrected bone stock dyno number at 500 miles back in Nov 2010 (uncorrected print-out is here )

I explained to Sean in painful detail what I wanted: more control, not necessarily more power. Probably one of their only customers asking for a custom tune but not wanting more peak power. I talked about tip-in throttle, falling rate vs rising rate throttle response, and the massive power-modulation issues we were having in 1st and 2nd gear, on corner exit in autocross events. Hoe we could not seem to fix the on-off throttle switch. I asked him to drive the car to see if he can feel the difference, before, during and after his tweaks.

After talking to some other local 2011 Mustang GT owners I was also curious why the car feels like it has a 200 pound flywheel. I made soem calls earlier this week and according to the folks at Fidanza the OEM flywheel is only 21.5 lbs . They were the only place I called that had an answer - because they make a lighter 2011 GT aluminum flywheel (12 lbs) and had weighed the stock unit. We cannot use an aftermarket flywheel in STX, but I just wanted to know what the stock unit weighed to se if it would explain the sluggish nature of engine revving - it didn't.

This afternoon when I went to pick up the car Sean had a lot of great information for us, as well as two new tunes loaded to our SCT unit and three color print outs of the various dyno pulls. That seems trivial but when you pay for dyno tuning you sometimes have to ask for printouts. They even videoed the dyno pull. Great service! They are also familiar with HP Tuners and other software packages, and I noticed several LSx powered cars as well as an SRT Challenger in their shop for tuning that day.

They tinkered with our Mustang off and on for several hours, made some calls to some other SCT gurus, even to some folks at Ford. Here's what they relayed to me:

1. There is a very weird steering feedback issue we had noticed but didn't mention to him, as we thought it was just a bad wheel bearing (we already received a new pair to install, next). He brought this up after driving the car... the explanation he had was bizarre, but it makes perfect sense. Its possibly a programming issue (that he cannot alter), so once we test this theory to verify his conclusions I will post up about it. Don't want to spread bad information if this isn't it. Its something we've been noticing for a while but had not mentioned here yet.

2. The "heavy flywheel effect" is all in ignition timing. The OEM tune adds 66 degrees of ignition advance in "engine deceleration mode" (off throttle, falling RPMs), which slows the engine responsiveness. He changed this to a normal 12 degrees and wow, what a difference. The engine response SO much more lively! Its easier to rev match downshifts, too. I had no idea that could be in the programming.

3. Sean says they've used 7700-7800 rpm redlines in these new Coyote 5.0 engines without issue. Yikes! The dyno pulls show that the motor is starting to lose power above 6700 rpm, so it doesn't make sense to go to these stratospheric revs unless its in an autocross situation where we're barely touching those high revs, to avoid a 2-3-3 shift on a short straight. Anything we can do to avoid a lot of shifting is a win, especially after the last autocross (where I needed 4 separate 2-3-2 shifts per run!). We'll keep en eye on the balancer (check for slipping) and oil usage, but we've gone ahead and moved the redline on our car to 7700 rpm, up from our previous 7400 number, and way up from the stock 6800 redline. Zing! I'm already looking at aftermarket SFI rated balancers, for long term durability.

4. So last but not least - the throttle mapping. Again, everything is all new on 2011s, as they can tune 2005-2010 throttle mapping easily. Sean tried to alter the correlation of pedal to throttle like I asked for but there are something 3 separate data tables/variables necessary to drive this interface, and he said if he altered all 3 the computer would "throw a wrench" error code on the dash. He says he has tried this on 2011s and it keeps "relearning around the tuning". He did try something very novel on our "track tune" and it might be effective - more than just running the car in a higher gear (our autocross testing showed Costas to be faster in 3rd gear rather than running in 2nd - which was such a kludge of a fix we'll try anything). Again, this tuning trick might be a flop so we're going to hold off on explaining about what he did until I can prove that it works. We will be testing the new tune at two autocross events this weekend. He loaded another identical tune without this throttle tricking tweak as our "street tune", which I can switch to in 90 seconds if the other doesn't work out. This "street tune" in fact makes more power... but again, we cannot use the power we're making in autocross situations, so this unusual "track tune" might indeed be faster.

Today's final 2 tunes with a peak number of 392 whp, corrected

So where are we now? 4500 miles later with one single bolt on part (cold air) and a custom tune we're at 392 whp , up +25 whp and +28 wtq on the new "street tune" over stock. That's pretty damn good power for an STX legal car with an air filter and "some 1s and 0s". A tiny part of the increase in peak numbers is the rise in the redline, as the bone stock dyno pull was just barely still going up at the stock 6800 rpm fuel cut. But the shape of both the new power and torque curves look nearly identical to stock, with the numbers up across the board, and the new power peak is only at 6700 rpm. So the cold air + the tune = a win.

Talked to an exhaust supplier yesterday and I'm anxious to get their full length 1-7/8" header set-up coming. Picking that larger header primary diameter to help kill some more low end power while giving a little more on top - unless the new tune is magic , in which case I'll go with their 1-3/4" primaries. Until now, adding any power anywhere would just make the car slower in autocross, so if this new "track tune" allows us to modulate throttle and corner exit faster then we can finally go ahead and look at more power, which is there for the taking. Then we can focus the rest of the season on more suspension bits.

Next up! Two autocrosses this weekend, including Saturday's National Street Tire Challenge and Sunday's Texas Region SCCA Autocross #3 , both being held at the massive Mineral Wells complex. Amy and I are driving the Mustang in 2 different classes at each event, and we might even be running on different tire packages as well. We do have a strange, new wheel and tire package we're testing this weekend , which is funny looking and sure to draw some laughs, but it might help cure some of our power issues. If it doesn't work, I won't mention it in my next post, photoshop them out of the pics, and deny we tried it if asked. :D

More soon,
Veteran Member
Veteran Member

13 Jun 2011 06:13 PM
note: SCCAForums still cannot show "lists" in UUB code, like every other forum on the internet. Sorry for that.


Project Update for June 13, 2011: We had two autocross events on the weekend of June 4-5, where we tested the new engine tuning (throttle mapping) and some new wheels/tires, with the first real promising results for the car in STX class to date. Let's start with the new rear rubber first, then cover the two very different autocross events separately.

17" Rear Wheels and Tires

After the very positive results we had with some very worn and borrowed 18" Dunlops at our
[*]PAX Results:
[*]SCCA Run 1, Terry
[*]SCCA Run 2, Terry
[*]SCCA Run 3, Terry
[*]SCCA Run 4, Terry
Amy ran in the "W" PAXed Womens class in the morning "A" heat (3 runs in the morning, 3 in the afternoon), but with 1 other STX ladies driver there wasn't much "PAX effect" on the results. She knocked down some blisteringly fast times in her 3 attacks at the course, even with a migraine headache that started Saturday afternoon - she said her head felt like it was going to explode wearing her helmet on Sunday. The heat was a big factor in this, but she still managed to put up the 5th fastest PAX time for the event in those 3 runs and clobbered both W and the STX open class. She passed out inside the timing trailer after she made her 3rd run and didn't drive in the afternoon at all.

I ran in STX with the usual suspects - Brad Maxcy and Chris Ledbetter in their AST/Vorshlag/Hankook equipped 328is BMWs, plus Ledbetter's co-driver Sherrie. We ran the "B" group and were running very similar times to each other, trading off the lead almost every run - we finished our 3rd runs within .1 sec of each other. I was feeling better about the performance of the car, especially considering that Amy was over 1 second quicker at a 78.040 sec run. I went to her and asked what she was doing differently - in her migraine daze she said she was smooth, attacking the offsets, stepping on cone bases, and just driving well. She also managed to do the whole course in 2nd gear, where I was shifting to 3rd in the back section. I think the excessive shifting was slowing me down, so in the afternoon I left it in 2nd and tried to be smooth .

After my 4th run I was quicker by a few tenths and in the lead again, at least for a short time. Maxcy and Ledbetter got quicker on their 4th-6th runs, so I was back in my normal 3rd place by day's end - but closer than ever (.391), and Amy was still quicker then all of us, in the same car in only 3 runs, and ran the course when it was dirtier. The throttle response was markedly improved and the car was handling better than it ever has in an autocross. So I was excited with the performance of the car overall - its finally showing some promise. STX class beat STS, STR and STU that day, with Lebetter PAXing 7th, Maxcy 8th and me back in 12th.

So we left Mineral Wells Sunday night sweaty, dehydrated, in pain, and generally dead tired from being at the event site for 3 days. We weren't out there as long as some others, but it was still a bit of a whipping.

Up next: Our new autocross timing system has now arrived (big thanks to SPS!) as well as a bunch of new cones, so we have everything needed to hold our own private autocross tests now - so expect to see some more tire testing, soon. We talked to the guys at Bridgestone and they were keen on possibly getting us a set of RE11s to go head to head with the Hankooks and Dunlops. We will see. Next event: 2-day Divisional Autocross this weekend in San Antonio.

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Veteran Member

22 Jun 2011 06:04 PM
Project Update for June 22, 2011: Amy and I ran the Mustang at the 2-day SCCA SouthWest Divisional # 2, hosted by the SASCA and Spokes regions, and held at the Retama Park horse track facility in San Antonio, TX. We towed from Dallas down to San Antonio on Friday, pushing through some ugly traffic on I-35, and once down there we saw an ambient temperature of 105°F that afternoon. Oh boy, summer was in full force in south Texas! We rolled up about 6:30 and the welcome party was going full swing, with a Carl's Jr Burger Bus cranking out great food (Vorshlag sponsors the SW Div series welcome parties; this sure beat cold pizza!). We checked in, teched, and walked what looked to be a rather nice course, for the size of lot they had. Hat tip to Vivek on smooth, flowing, and very different course designs for both days.

[*]PAX Results:
[*]Picture Gallery:

First off - the SASCA club put on a great event for their first Divisional! The weather was warm but with only 82 entrants we were done early Saturday and Sunday, both. The largest class was XP with 14 drivers - with V8 Miatas and all sorts of cool rides - and they were all smokin' fast. The region put on a great Saturday night dinner/party inside the Retama Park facilities (*air conditioned!), where we put away two kegs of cold Shiner beer and lots of delicious Bar-B-Q. A huge number of us stuck around that night for about 4 hours, talking and drinking, bench racing and lying. This is why 2-day autocross events are so much fun.

So how'd the Mustang do? It was driving great, as it has been ever since we got the throttle mapping sorted. The Hankooks took the heat (with ample tire spraying after every run - especially the rears) and dug through the dirty asphalt surface fairly well. We didn't make any radical changes at this event - for once - and just used the shock and tire pressure settings we used at the last event.

So the course Saturday was a bit twisty, with 3 "turn-arounds", and walking it I could predict that the AWD cars would do very well - and they did. John Hale put a second on the STU field (and 2 seconds per day on the other ST classes) in his STi over both days... FTW (see above). The R compound and slick-clad cars also PAXed well, I think due to an abundance of big, sweeping turns on Sunday's course? Amy and I PAXed 19th and 21st out of 81, but we straight timed ST, STS, and were darn close to STR (Amy almost beat the class), so I felt the Mustang did well despite our somewhat mediocre PAX finish this time.

For our class results I won STX (that's a first) and Amy took 2nd in the PAX'ed "W" class, losing by a scant .3 sec to a CP Mustang driver. Amy was faster than me overall, driving smoother as usual. We just about tied on Saturday (.04 apart) but she straight timed me on 4 out of 4 runs on Sunday, with a .3 sec gap ahead of my combined times over both days. I've watched all of the videos and analyzed the pictures (300) and she's smoother on braking inputs, throttle inputs, and maintaining more speed through transitions than I am. My runs have much more brake dive, more power oversteer, more choppy driving. I need to work on being smoother on the inputs, again. Did I mention I was hung over BADLY Sunday morning? :D That didn't help. We also we need a new data logger that we can look at driver data between autocross runs . MaxQ is out of business, so what's the next best, PDA-based (or included LCD readout), easy to view, 10 Hz GPS+Acclerometer data logging option???

me = too much Hooning, too abrupt on the brakes

Again, due to the small event turn-out (I'm talking to you, Texas Region SCCA racers who skipped this event. We had only 7 folks from our massive region there!) we finished early both race days to beat the heat; even with 4 runs, we were wrapped at 12:30 am on Saturday and 11:30 am on Sunday. It was 86°F one day and 90°F the next after the last runs, but crept up past 103-107°F in the late afternoons. We spent Saturday afternoon in the pool at our hotel - my kind of autocross weekend.

Dust, dirt and marbles were in abundance, both on and off-line

After we wrapped up Sunday we loaded up and headed back up to Dallas, but within 15 minutes were pulled over by Texas DPS for a "road side truck and trailer inspection". They hit thousands of trucks+trailers that weekend, apparently, but we had all of our paperwork and passed easily. 2 hours later we pulled over to finally eat lunch, then I heard a big leak on a truck tire. Nail in the tread. We were parked 75 feet from an NTB and even though they wouldn't plug/patch the tire (Discount Tire did on Monday) they helped us put the spare on. A scant 5 hours after leaving San Antonio we were back to Dallas - whew!

In-Car Videos

[*]Terry Day 1 Run 1
[*]Terry Day 1 Run 2
[*]Terry Day 1 Run 3
[*]Amy Day 1 Run 4
[*]Terry Day 2 Run 1
[*]Terry Day 2 Run 2
[*]Terry Day 2 Run 3
[*]Amy Day 2 Run 2
[*]Amy Day 2 Run 3

The month of July gets a little nuts for us, as after the July 4th weekend we have 3 weekends booked with autocrosses. 2 Tex Region SCCA events sandwich another SW Divisional event (College Station - on concrete), with Costas back on board co-driving in STX at most or all of these. I have a few new bits for the Mustang in-bound (JTL oil separator, not much else worth discussing) and at some point in July we're going to try to get our next private tire test in (Vorshlag's new timer system and pylons have arrived).

Stay tuned,
Veteran Member
Veteran Member

28 Jun 2011 05:42 PM
hey, the 265/40-17 Dunlops fit the RX-8 easily :-p

I would recommend skipping the RE-11s ....
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Veteran Member

06 Jul 2011 07:22 PM
Project Update for July 6, 2011: Lots of little things going on with our Mustang since the last post. Apologies in advance for the pictures - I left my Nikon at McCall's on Friday (working on his Z3 LS1) so I took all of these with my iPhone. Let me catch everyone up...

FCS1219311: 2011 MUSTANG WORKSHOP MANUAL @ $180.00 each

The 2 volume Helms Ford Factory Manuals were finally printed for the 2011 Mustang, and we got ours last week. Now we can hopefully find all of the little fixes and tricks to maximize everything. I looked in the power steering section - zero diagnostics help.

As you can see above we have added some underhood silliness, above... I'm normally not one for "bling" but most of this round of mods has a purpose.

I'm sure the blue coil covers will get some "ricer!" grief, but oh well. So I started by removing the coil covers (they pop off in seconds), then cleaned them with soap/water, then wiped them with alcohol. Next came five sprayed on coats of Rust-oleum "Ford Blue" high heat engine paint and then a couple of coats of Rust-oleum "High Performance Wheel Paint" clear coat. It was super easy to get these off and on, and only took about 30 minutes of work (plus drying time). This blue matches the 2012 Boss 302. Yea, its just flash, and all of the guys here at Vorshlag were hating on this mod, as was my wife Amy ("What next, a Superman cape?!"), but its an authentic tribute to the new Boss 302, so screw you guys! :)

Next up was the JLT oil separator catch can kit for the 2011-2012 5.0 and Boss 302. We picked the the "Passenger Side Kit" ($119) and it installs in literally seconds. Two squeezed clamps (which you can un-snap by hand) to remove the old vacuum tube, then the kit pops on in place - the hose from the intake to the passenger side valve cover. During high RPM use (and really the subsequent "high vacuum" period on engine deceleration) it will catch the oil vapors (separates and traps it in the catch can) instead of burning it inside the engine. I've seen guys track these 5.0s start pushing oil out into the air cleaner, but its usually people that live on the rev limiter. Last up is the Redline Tuning Gas Strut hood lift kit , which I also got from JLT. This simple to install $84 kit comes with all of the goodies to replace the stupid stock hood prop rod. If you park into the wind and leave the hood up (which we do often at the drag strip, road course events and autocross events) the hood can rattle and flop around, even fall off the prop rod. Now that we have real hood struts, these issues are resolved.

Last up, the video of the "Electronic steering shudder" feedback issue we've run into on our car:

This video describes what we're seeing and shows in in great detail. If you know anyone at Ford and would like to send them this link , please do! Also, anyone road racing the new Boss302S (with the same electric steering) - have you seen this?

We're not trying to blame Ford for a poor design, just want to find the sensor or broken wiring or whatever is causing this horrendous cyclical feedback in the steering. Its actually pretty dangerous... once it happens you have to pull over and almost come to a complete stop to get it to stop. And its getting worse; it happened to me yesterday twice, on the highway, going perfectly straight.

Yes, we might have inadvertently done something to cause this - I'm looking for the solution, and I'm willing to pay for new parts if its our fault. We've pulled out the "excessive" negative camber up front (that someone suggested as the cause), and zero'd the front toe, but so far nothing has fixed it. Any suggestions or "its happened to us too!" experiences are welcomed.

Advanced Member
Advanced Member

06 Jul 2011 07:32 PM
they're likely to tell you its tire balance...
Veteran Member
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08 Jul 2011 07:09 PM
Mini-update for July 8, 2011: Just a few pictures of the first prototype S197 Mustang, D-Force/Vorshlag, 5-spoke 18x10" wheel shown on our 2011 Mustang GT. This is the first stab at getting the offsets right, and we know we might be going back and tweaking the numbers slightly. We wanted to get a grasp on weights (18.7 lbs) and caliper clearance on this first 18x10" set before we ask for changes to the molds.

They clear the front Brembo 14" rotors and calipers by a huge margin up front, and it looks like the offset we have might just work front and rear. Its hard to tell without tires mounted, and just slapping them on at full suspension droop. On Monday we'll mount up some tires and post more pictures.

The rear can go inboard another inch, and we might move the wheel inboard 5-7mm to gain fender clearance out back. Again, we'll know more when we get tires mounted and have the whole set on the car. If they fit we'll start street/track testing them right away.

So far I'm very happy with the initial test fit - stay tuned for more information about this wheel. And yes, we're trying to make it fit GR chassis Subarus as well (which shares the 5x114.3mm bolt circle). Costs should be "affordable" (read: sub-$350) given the quality, light weight, and somewhat narrow market range for a 10" wheel like this, with ETA for production at 12-24 weeks. This is an exclusive D-Force wheel offering that will be stocked and sold by Vorshlag.

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